In just a few months, families across America will walk into join-Scouting nights, wide-eyed at the prospect of participating in Cub Scouting. But those wide eyes might glaze over as the Scoutspeak begins. “We just start tossing out ‘den,’ ‘pack,’ ‘Akela’ and all these terms, and they’re looking at us like we’re speaking a foreign language — which we are,” says Cubmaster Perry Lipker of Pack 148 in Hilliard, Ohio.
While it’s smart to rein in the jargon, many packs go a step further by providing families with a pack handbook that introduces them to Scouting in general and their pack in detail. If your pack doesn’t have a handbook, you might want to create one over the summer, when Cub Scouting slows down a bit. Here are some tips to get you started.
Choosing Your Content
A simple handbook would cover these topics:
- Basic Cub Scouting: The program’s purpose, how the pack is structured and how the advancement program works
- Basic pack information: Details on your chartered organization and when and where you meet
- Activities and outings: Information on camping trips, summertime activities, and big events like the pinewood derby and blue and gold banquet
- Leadership: Leadership positions and the role of parents
- Finances: Membership costs, dues and fundraising opportunities
- Uniforms: Where to buy uniforms and where to put patches
- Communications: Details on the pack’s newsletter, Web page and social-media presence
- Pack code of conduct and discipline policy: Highlights of the BSA’s Youth Protection guidelines
- Resources: Information on Boys’ Life and Scouting magazines, the Cub Hub (cubscouts.org) and your local council
Also, think about the questions people often ask you. “If we start seeing a trend of some frequently asked question that’s not answered in the handbook or on the website, we’ll put that into the handbook,” Lipker says.
Keeping Content Up to Date
Some info will change. This year, for example, every pack handbook that describes the Cub Scout advancement program will need a major update. Summer is a good time to make any needed changes.
Don’t just rely on your own eyes, though, because you might see only things that relate to your position. Ask den leaders and committee members to spot things that need to be changed.
Finally, don’t be surprised if you hear from Scouters who want to borrow your work. “I’ve been contacted a dozen times by packs who have found this thing and want a Word copy so they could edit it and make it their own,” Lipker says. “I always tell them: I wish we could take full credit for it, but it’s a work of BSA volunteers across the U.S.”
WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR CREATING A PACK HANDBOOK? SHARE BELOW.
READ MORE CUB SCOUTING STORIES AT SCOUTINGMAGAZINE.ORG/CUBSCOUTS
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